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Who is Joe Bloggs?


You may have heard of Joe Bloggs. He’s everywhere, but nowhere to be found. In North America he goes by the name ‘John Doe’ and in Germany he’s ‘Max Mustermann’.

‘Joe Bloggs’ or ‘the average Joe’ is a fake name used in some English-speaking countries to talk about an average person or people in general, as in:

Joe Bloggs can’t afford to buy a luxury car like a Porsche.

This week, one of my lovely students introduced me to the German version (Max Mustermann), which I find amusing and delightful and will never forget even though I only heard it once. Do I really need to learn it though? Will it be useful when I’m discussing aspects of my daily life? Probably not, but it’s so much fun to know!

As motivated beginners we gobble up new words and phrases, but it always seems that the more we learn, the less we remember. It’s as if our brains are empty baskets that fill up over time so that it becomes harder and harder to add new words to the collection. On top of that, learning gets tedious and memorising new vocabulary becomes a chore. But, if we keep our ears open, and ask the right questions, we learn interesting new words that spice up our repertoire. Language learning doesn’t always have to be practical; it should also be fun!

Photo by Titouan on Unsplash
I sometimes think the most interesting words are not the ones found in my course book, but those I hear on the radio or in conversation. Like the hand gestures or little sounds (eh, ne, upa, oh là là) that belong to a language, you can’t find these words in a language book, you have to learn them from the locals. There’s a reason why language learners, particularly teenagers, love discovering (and using) English swear words. Real-life language is very appealing and closes the gap between the learner and the language community. Finally being able to use those words and sounds yourself is a satisfying achievement!

Do you know Joe Bloggs? Maybe he goes by a different name where you come from.

Article aid

he’s nowhere to be found = no one can find him
goes by the name = uses the name / is called
amusing = a little funny / entertaining
gobble up = usually means to eat something quickly because you’re very hungry, here it means to enthusiastically learn new words
tedious = boring
a chore = a job that is boring, but which you have to do
spice up = make something more interesting
repertoire = here it means all the foreign language words that you know
swear words = impolite or rude words that people think you shouldn’t say in public
appealing = interesting / attractive

Grammar Spot

'which'

Yes, this is a question word, but it is also a useful connecting word that helps you to keep talking about something (not someone) without repeating the topic and without starting a new sentence. Here is an example of it in action:

1. This week, one of my lovely students introduced me to the German version (Max Mustermann), which I find amusing and delightful and will never forget even though I only heard it once.

Without this helpful little word I need to write the following:

2. This week, one of my lovely students introduced me to the German version (Max Mustermann). I find it very amusing and delightful and will never forget it even though I only heard it once.

In 1 above, which means 'the German version Max Mustermann'. Without which in 2 above, I need to make two sentences and I need to write it twice, which (!) is a bit repetitive. 

I also use 'which' in the article aids. Do you use 'which' when you speak or write in English?

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